Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Size and Effects of the Tobacco Industry in India

Adarsha and Apoorva with Puttaswami, a Tobacco Farmer near our farm in Hunsur in 2007

Apoorva and Adarsha with Puttaswami in 2009. We are trying to convince him to grow Jatropha in his farm by intercropping with Tobacco.

Dear followers of Project Jatropha,

The tobacco industry has such a hold in southern India, it's really hard to believe the scale unless you see the area itself. To give you an idea of the scale, the plot where Jatropha and ragi( finger millet) was around 30 by 120 feet. All the eye could see for miles in each direction was fields of tobacco. The scale of the industry means that all of the environmental impacts of tobacco get magnified as well. For instance, one kilogram of tobacco requires 5 kilograms of burnable material to cure it. Around 2 of the kilograms comes from cow pies, coconut husks, etc. However, the rest of the material is firewood. Now, when one considers that several hundred pounds of tobacco can be harvested per plot, one realizes that there is a lot of firewood is consumed in order to do so. Since even one village can have many acres worth of tobacco, it becomes apparent that vast quantities of firewood must be used, which consequently has profound effects on the forest. Right now the effects of deforestation are most noticeable on the edges of the nearby forest, where the wood is most easily accessible. I am sure that as the years pass by more and more of the forest will disappear. The deforestation and burning of the wood causes several problems, including large carbon dioxide and pollutant emissions, animal-human conflicts, and a loss of biodiversity. Let's not forget the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which mandates the halving of tobacco production by 2020. The farmers are confused and they need help. We at project Jatropha are trying our best to provide alternative crops. As long as the farmers are open-minded, something will work out. We have to be optimistic.


1 comment:

  1. Hi guys,
    You guys are doing a great job with these farmers. Keep up the good work.